Saturday 10 December 2016

Refreshed Imperial to showcase superiority

Wayne Bailey

Published 20/11/2010 | 05:00

IF the guys who compile the Timeform ratings have called it right, Nigel Twiston-Davies' Imperial Commander should have some 17lbs in hand in today's Betfair Chase (3.25 Haydock); which effectively means he will destroy the field if all horses run to form.

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Things are rarely that simple in this game but with a rating of 196, he is well clear of Nacarat (179) and Planet Of Sound (174) so his claims are very hard to ignore.

An even more compelling case could be made on official ratings where, at 185, Imperial Commander is a full 22lbs clear of nearest rival Planet Of Sound; and when you consider the fact that he has a great record when running fresh, his odds of 8/11 look seriously tempting for a big bet.

When I was a kid, a bag of sugar weighed 2lbs -- so using that as a measure, Imperial Commander would have to carry 11 bags of the stuff around Haydock just to give Planet Of Sound an equal chance at winning. The wife tells me that sugar is now weighed in kilograms these days thanks to some silly EU law, but whether it's kilos or pounds, the horse is vastly superior, on paper at least.

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This race isn't a handicap of course and will be run at level weights (hence the odds-on price), but value can be found at both ends of the market and this is a maximum bet for me.

All that said, the assessors don't always get it right and readers may remember that in this contest last year, Kauto Star was officially rated 21lbs superior to Imperial Commander but only beat him by a nose. Was Kauto Star over-rated that day? Or was Imperial Commander vastly under-rated? Judging by the Gold Cup, I think it's safe to say that the latter explanation is the most valid.

Those poor souls who ploughed into Imperial Commander at 11/8 for the Totesport Bowl last time out at Aintree (where he jumped poorly before unseating Paddy Brennan) are bound to have doubts, but he was clearly tired after a tough Gold Cup when beating Denman so I'm happy to forgive him for that run. His need for a rest between races was evident in the 2009 King George at Kempton and he's definitely at his best following a break.

In the Ascot Hurdle (2.35), Karabak is overpriced at around 4/1 for the Alan King yard. A bug at Barbury Castle last season meant King's horses were never really firing on all cylinders but he has since made numerous changes, including ordering some expensive Canadian hay for his stables to eliminate infections. Whatever he's done, it seems to have worked well and a treble at Plumpton on Monday was quickly followed by a double at Warwick on Wednesday.

Karabak was disappointing last time in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown but with the stable out of sorts at the time, he's best judged on older form and is well capable of giving Zaynar a run for his money today. A 6lb pull at the weights compared to last year could make all the difference.

EACH-WAY OUTSIDER

Mister Green has been chalked up as the 25/1 outsider in the Ladbrokes Odds On! Card Handicap (2.30 Lingfield), and that inflated price is partly down to a very poor performance in the 2m4f Ascot Stakes Handicap back in June when still trained by Kevin McAuliffe. He was well out of his depth on that occasion and the race proved that he's definitely not a stayer -- so it's good to see him back to 7f for the first time in two years. He generally performs better on the Polytrack and is not without a chance at a big price today.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.30 Lingfield: Mister Green (e/w)

2.35 Ascot: Karabak

2.50 Haydock: Grands Crus

3.05 Lingfield: Summit Surge

3.25 Haydock: Imperial Commander

Irish Independent

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